It’s That Time Of Year: Are You Ready For Pothole Season?
Ugly, dangerous potholes! Ever wonder what causes these massive craters that ruin our commutes -- and cars -- each spring?
1) First the weather gets cold, and snow falls and ice forms on roadways.
2) Then, the weather warms and snow and ice melt and the water seeps beneath the pavement through cracks caused by the wear and tear of traffic.
3) Then, as the temperatures cool to freezing at night, the water becomes ice and expands below the pavement, forcing the pavement to rise.
4) Finally, as the weight of traffic continues to pound on this raised section – and the temperatures once again rise above freezing – a shallow divot occurs under the surface and the pavement breaks, forming a pothole.
5) More traffic over the pothole breaks away the asphalt around the edges and digs out at the substrate under the asphalt, and the pothole gets larger and deeper, causing even more damage to the cars that drive over it.
The situation is made worse on most of the nation's roads because the pavement is already in such poor shape, said Leland Smithson, coordinator of the Snow and Ice Cooperative Program for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in an article at USAToday. Depending on the state where you live, costs to repair springtime potholes can cost from $20 million to $50 million to as much as $100 million dollars!
Potholes are such a nuisance to vehicles that, on average, damage from potholes cost American drivers more than five billion dollars annually! Hitting a pothole can damage tires, wheels, steering and suspension, wheel alignment, and more.
Click here to read more about signs that will let you know if you should have a professional technician inspect your vehicle after hitting a pothole.
At the General Motors Proving Ground near Detroit, manufactured potholes ranging from mildly annoying to chassis-rattling help engineers tune suspensions to minimize discomfort that could be felt by passengers. In this useful video from General Motors, James Bell recently took a bumpy ride around the proving ground and shared his top tips for avoiding pothole damage during this record season including:
• Maintain the recommended tire inflation
• Avoid standing water
• Maintain safe distance behind other cars
• Use winter tires and keep them on until the end of pothole season
• If you do hit a severe pothole check for any damage immediately